History of Science 252. Sciences of History





What is historical method, in what sense might history be a science, and what relations have particular historical movements maintained with the natural sciences? Proposed answers to these questions have varied a great deal over time, in part according to changing conceptions of science, scientific method, and objectivity. This course will take an episodic (and somewhat chronological) approach to studying some crucial moments and places in which these questions have come into focus, both among academic historians and among others. When appropriate (which is most of the time) we will also consider the particular technologies and techniques that have been marshalled in the service of a particular attempt to produce scientific history, for historical method is not simply a set of theoretical orientations but is also connected to particular material cultures. We will often have occasion to consider in particular whether and in what ways historians of science and technology have considered themselves to have a special duty to approach history scientifically.